The term Universal Design initially originated in the field of architechture design as a way to describe creating building designs that incorporated features that helped accommodate those with disabiities and also were useful to those without disabilities. Consider how helpful having automatic doors are when your hands are full or how nice it is to have slopped sidewalks at corners if you are pushing a stroller. These are all benefits of UD. The same idea can be applied to the classroom when we begin to make accommodations that are often availble to student with disabilities to all students in the classroom. Creating videos with closed captioning, having electronic textbooks that have an e-reader feature can be very helpful if one needs to view a video where having the sound on might not be appropriate or if they need to read a chapter while driving to and from school.
Technology has allowed for more incorporation of UD into the classroom. Below I present a table of just a few common classroom issues that might benefit from a UD approach. I present a low-tech, medium-tech, and high-tech approach.
|Educational issue||Low Tech||Mid Tech||High Tech|
|Addressing test anxiety||Allow for multiple attempts on an exam/quiz. Turn in test, get feedback, schedule time to re-take test one more time||Allow for multiple attempts on a exam/quiz, but use scantron technology to facilitate grading. Schedule time to re-take exam||Using LMS create an exam that allows multiple attempts as the exam is being taken during class. No need to schedule another time.|
|Reading Disabilities||Have a text be read aloud to students in a disabilities support center.||Provide an e-book with a text reader capability for students with documented disability||Provide all students the choice of textbook modality they prefer including either physical or e-book with read aloud feature.|
|Students unable to attend class regularly due to some legitimate reason.||Students encouraged not to enroll in the course due to absences||Instructor provides some lecture notes and e-mails assignments to student||All course material is provided on the course LMS including lecture notes, videos, assignments, feedback, etc.|